Providence, RI – RIHousing today announced a second round of funding awards as part of the agency’s “Bridging the Digital Divide” (Digital Divide) program, which provides financial resources to support projects to increase internet access for low- and moderate-income households across the state. The program provides financial resources to eligible organizations and municipalities in support of initiatives to expand and support internet access and digital literacy.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer a second round of funding awards to further reduce disparities in internet access, which can have adverse economic and social consequences on Rhode Islanders,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “While there are a number of existing initiatives to help bridge the digital divide, there are still many residents who cannot afford adequate and long-term internet access. Too many low- and moderate-income households cannot access high-speed internet at home, resulting in barriers to their ability to access critical resources and information.”
In January 2021, RIHousing announced its initial round of Digital Divide Funds and awarded $250,000 in program funds to four applicants in May of last year. The agency issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a second round of Digital Divide funding in December 2021. Available funding for the second round totaled $450,000. RIHousing received 10 proposals in response to the RFP from 10 applicants representing housing developers, property owners and managers, and public housing authorities. Funding requested totaled $494,594.21.
With this second round of funding, the agency sought proposals that will provide low-and-moderate income Rhode Island residents with long-term, high-speed access to the internet to empower Rhode Islanders all across the state to take advantage of new opportunities and compete in the knowledge economy.
“We were excited with the variety and creativity of funding applicants in helping to bridge the digital divide for Rhode Islanders,” said James Comer, Deputy Director, RIHousing. “Our Digital Divide Fund represents RIHousing’s commitment to helping Rhode Islanders and complements existing initiatives from cable providers, the state, and non-profit community to provide tablets and hot spots and improve internet use and digital literacy.”
Many existing resources are earmarked to help build the infrastructure for high-speed internet, and typically cannot be used to pay for internet access. RIHousing’s Digital Divide program provides funding for organizations to provide or expand free or low-cost internet access to Rhode Islanders.
Award recipients of the second round of Digital Divide funding proposed a variety of initiatives, including free WiFi for affordable housing residents, updated hardware and devices and digital literacy training.
Funding recipients include: